|January 8, 2018 • VOL. 56, NO. 1 • Oakland, CA|
O'Dowd president dies
Steve Phelps, who served as president of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland since 2005, died Dec. 26, the school reported.
Patricia Ann Folger
Rev. Patrick Leo LaBelle, OP
Rev. Patrick Leo LaBelle, a former president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, died Dec. 11 in Fairfax. He was 78.
A native of Vallejo, LaBelle was graduated from St. Vincent Ferrer Grammar and High Schools before studying at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. He joined the Order of Preachers (Dominicans, Western Province) in 1959 and received the religious name, Patrick. He made his religious profession in 1960 and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Oakland on April 23, 1965.
He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Saint Mary's College in 1975 and graduated with a Doctor of Ministry in 1994. Because of his love for the Christian Brothers, the Brothers awarded him their highest honor, Affiliation, AFSC.
During his 52 years of ministry, Father LaBelle devoted many years of his life to campus ministry at St. Thomas More University Parish in Eugene, Oregon; the Newman Center at the University of Washington, Seattle; and at Stanford University. In the Diocese of Oakland his assignments included two terms as president at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT), 1977-1981, and as dean of students at Saint Mary's College.
"Father LaBelle was crucial in helping guide our transition from a tiny 'Dominican seminary,' located at St. Albert Priory in Oakland, into a public institution at the GTU that welcomes lay men and women into fully accredited academic programs," said Rev. Peter Rogers, OP, DSPT president, in a Dec. 15 message to the campus community.
He also served as pastor at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley (1992-1995) and he had been a director at Vallombrosa Retreat Center, Menlo Park.
Survivors include his brother, Robert, and his sister, Claire, their spouses, children and grandchildren.
The funeral Mass was held Dec. 15 at St. Dominic Church in San Francisco. Burial followed at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia.
Rev. Patrick O'Brien, CSSR
Rev. Patrick O'Brien, director of Holy Redeemer Center in Oakland, died Oct. 19 after a recent diagnosis of liver cancer. He was 78 and had been a priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) for 53 years.
Born in Great Falls, Montana, Father O'Brien entered the Redemptorist Novitiate in 1958 and professed temporary vows the following year. He professed perpetual vows as a Redemptorist in 1962 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964.
Twice he was elected provincial superior of the former Oakland Province. Notable accomplishments during his tenure included accepting his Congregation's mission in Nigeria and helping to navigate the merger with the former St. Louis Province to establish the Denver Province in 1996.
Father O'Brien ministered in Marriage Encounter for nearly five decades, and he focused on both Marriage Encounter and Cursillo in the Oakland diocese. He also served as associate pastor at the former St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in San Leandro.
In a 2014 reflection for The Catholic Voice, Father O'Brien said that his 50 years in the priesthood had been "very enjoyable, enriching, fulfilling — and non-typical of most priests. I have never been a pastor of a parish, or assigned full time to parochial work. Much of my priestly service to the Church was in education and administration, but not in isolation from the laity. In addition to help-out work in parishes, I have worked closely with people in non-parochial settings of faith formation and sharing, especially in renewal groups such as Marriage Encounter, Retorno, Cursillo, etc."
He also wrote about having been fortunate to have seen the Church in a broad way, with the opportunity to visit and experience faith in many countries. "Preaching and bringing the richness of the Church's sacramental life to so many people over the years has made my life very fulfilling."
The funeral Mass was held Oct. 21 at the St. Clement Health Care Center in Liguori, Missouri; burial was held in the Redemptorist Cemetery.
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